Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cockpit Counterattack

Volume 3 of the MS pilot manual takes us into the 0090s, and what's changed since the Grypps war. This article begins to focus on weapons as well, and really delves into the up close and personal nature of Mobile Suit combat. Computer control is now used as a bit of a deus ex machina here, but it follows a logical progression of increasing computer control through the three volumes.

The melee combat section is particularly detailed, and finally explains why we never see the beam saber blades in CCA until they actually strike something.

Mobile Suit Pilot Manual Volume Three

1. Control description
Since the UC 0080s, great advances have been made in Linear Seat and Panoramic monitor control technologies.  The technology has matured, but at the same time, several problems and flaws have been discovered.

Because Mobile Suits using the Linear seat concept did not have their pilots secured with belts, one groundbreaking change had to be made. Using actual maneuvering and combat data, a safety system that could absorb the shocks of impact during combat near instantaneously was developed.

Using 20th century technology previously employed in automobiles, a refined airbag system, or 'shock balloon', was integrated into the console design, and became an important pilot safety feature. In combat situations where weapon impacts or sudden shocks cause the pilot's helmet to move away from the head rest of the pilot seat, the shock balloon will deploy within a fraction of one second to absorb the impact. The shock balloon will then retract back into the console in 1-5 seconds.

The control stick interface has also improved, particularly in how the pilot grips the controls, which are now known as 'Arm Rakers', which require fewer movements to complete the same control commands than the traditional stick interface. Fire control, combat, and cruising mode can be programmed in advance, making it possible to control them from the Arm Rakers as opposed to the subconsoles.

This allows the necessary controls to be reduced, allowing the pilot to fully concentrate on combat operations. Weapon triggers, manipulators, and Mobile Suit bearing can be controlled using the ball controls without moving the wrist, while the throttle and brake is controlled by moving the arm. Pulling the arm backwards (towards the pilot seat) will accelerate, and pushing it forward will engage reverse thrust.

2. Close range combat

In the UC 0090s there haven not been any large changes in Mobile Suit control systems since the 0080s. The development of automobiles can be used as a good parallel example to explain this: In the early development of automobiles, many different steering systems were used, but as they became more widespread, the systems were gradually refined into a single system. (The steering wheel.)  

So, while many different features and functions have been added to the control housings of different models of Mobile Suit, careful attention is required, but the fundamental controls have remained the same.

At this point, focus has shifted to the summary of information displayed on the monitors, and short range combat (excluding anti-ship combat).

The AMS-119 Geara Doga forms the backbone of the restored Neo Zeon's military strength. An extremely well-balanced Mobile Suit, it can be used by novices and veteran pilots alike, as as their skills improve, can become an extension of a pilot's own arms and legs.

The true strength of this Mobile Suit, however, lies in close range combat. This Mobile Suit was developed under the hypothesis that when Minovsky Particles have been scattered, the detection range and situational awareness of combatants will be reduced.

To this end, the Mobile Suit was equipped with equipment focusing on medium and short range combat.
In situations where long range sniping or when hostile units are moving at high speed and evasively maneuvering, the Beam Machine gun is highly effective. The longest ranged weapon in the Geara Doga's loadout is the Beam Machine gun, which has excellent penetration and is highly effective against both Mobile Suits and Warships, and successive accurate hits can be utterly devastating to targets.  

If the enemy is allowed to close to short range, the Machine Gun and also the shield-mounted grenade launcher and the sturm fausts can be used. Because both of these weapons are propelled by explosive charges, they are primarily effective at close ranges, but can be extremely damaging.

It should be noted that using these weapons at extremely close ranges does pose a risk of being caught in the blast radius of the weapons, so evasive and defensive maneuvering are extremely important when using these weapons.
In any case, once the pilot has made the appropriate settings with the fire control system dial on the side console, the computer will take over, and the pilot will not have to made any additional adjustments.

In most combat situations, the computer will overlay a reticule on top of the panoramic monitor representing the pilot's field of view, and continue tracking targets until they become combat ineffective. However, in some situations (such as when multiple enemies enter the Mobile Suit's weapon range), they will be listed and prioritized in the monitor, so it's important to keep a high level of situational awareness.
If the current engagement continues for extended periods, it is recommended to check the scan data of hostile Mobile Suits, and it is also vital to know if any friendly units have joined combat as support as well.

The decision to pursue or break off is the pilot's decision, and should also take his Mobile Suit's condition into account, but the computer must also be directed to either continue tracking or cancel tracking. There may also be damage to the Mobile Suit that the pilot is unable to see as well, so the pilot must be prepared to make on-the-spot decisions.

3. Melee Combat

Out of all types of combat that pilots may encounter, melee combat poses the greatest challenge to a pilot's skills. So far, the skills discussed are all fundamental piloting skills, as if a student driver was learning the best way drive to avoid accidents.

The following description of melee combat can thus be compared to preparing to enter a race. It's important to remember though, that this is a race that a Mobile Suit pilot, whether they want to or not, will eventually find themselves competing in.
The most important part of this aspect of combat is simple: strike first.

Not only is the concept of fighting in extremely close quarters itself frightening, most armor and equipment (except the I-field), are ineffective, allowing lethal damage to be inflicted with ease. If a pilot hesitates, they will most likely not be able to evade in time. Enemy units armed with Beam weapons in melee are extremely dangerous, as the damage they can inflict can be tremendous. Even a Mobile Suit with only one arm can, in one swing of a beam saber, decisively end combat, and in a crowded free-for-all melee, a near miss can commonplace, and even a near miss can in the next moment, quickly cut a Mobile Suit in half if the pilot can react quickly enough.

Previously, units using melee weapons could be easily detected and identified, but in recent years, beam weapons are able to be
adjusted intermittently, and have become much more difficult to detect, and some beam weapons have been developed that only emit a beam just before striking a target, otherwise remaining in a standby mode, so pilots must be ready to react quickly.

However, the AMS-119 has ample melee combat ability, so there is little need to feel insecure about the capability of the Mobile Suit. Once engaged in melee combat, the computer will calculate various factors such as length of the arm and beam saber, and distance to the enemy mobile suit, projected vector of the enemy mobile suit, and point of contact, as well as vulnerable areas and timing, and display it on the reticule.

In particular, because the beam weapon that the Geara Doga uses has 'Sword' 'Axe' and 'Pick' beam emitters, it is possible to select the weapon to best suit the situation. While it is of course best not to have some functions be completely automated, the computer can select the best beam type for the situation for the pilot. Conversely, if the pilot provides no input or control, nothing will happen.When in combat with other beam saber armed opponents, the laser oscillators will emit a strong magnetic field in reverse polarity to the opposing beam saber the moment before impact, which will block the blade. This also allows for prevention of timing mistakes when the blades separate.

If the timing is off, it's recommended to use another limb to to engage the opponent. (In other words, kick them.) However, in the zero gravity environment of outer space, be mindful that the movement of limbs is partially controlled by the AMBAC system, and the AMBAC system functions differently in and out of combat.

When engaged in pursuit or combat, use the movement of arms to change vector, and when disengaging, use inertia as much as possible to minimize lost time. When an enemy mobile suit is successfully damaged or disabled, beware of the possibility of explosion and maneuver away from the enemy as quickly as possible to avoid being trapped in the explosion.

4. Disengaging from combat

Running out of ammunition, or in situations where the main body of the Mobile Suit is vulnerable, pilots who are prepared to sustain damage to their limbs can engage directly in melee combat with their manipulators. Monitors and power conduction cables or systems are especially effective targets to destroy.

When a pilot's own mobile suit sustains damage not heavy enough to warrant ejection, or when their mobile suit becomes combat ineffective, when enemy reinforcements arrive in the combat area, or when a clear difference in combat ability is identified, it is generally recommended that Mobile Suits disengage. As long as the emergency computer is still active, use the combat mode display to find an effective retreat path, which can then be programmed in.

Of course, while doing this, it is still important to continue to evade any incoming enemy fire. Once the escape course has been confirmed, mobile suits made after the 0080s have a very effective decoy system to deter aimed fire from pursuing mobile suits.

A balloon dummy can be launched from the Mobile Suit's manipulators, providing chaff and a visually confusing distraction. This can confuse the enemy mobile suit's sensors and computer recognition programs. Thus far we have discussed many of the basic elements of short and medium range combat. For fundamental Mobile Suit operation information, please refer to earlier volumes.


  1. Dude thank you so much for putting these up. I have been looking for something like this for ages. I've always been fascinated by the way they control mobile suits in gundam. I would like to ask you one question. Do these manuals ever explain how the control sticks and pedals actually control the mobile suit movement, or does it just say it controls it? Thanks.

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  3. Incredible material, very informative. Thanks a lot for let us to be able to read it ;)
    However I wonder how they can execute complex and most human like movements like gestures, the famous kicks or grabbing other Mobile Suits to hold them or help them.